COVID-19: A List of Drugs That Have Been Tried to Ease Symptoms

This time last year, when COVID-19 was just starting to spread alarmingly, patients typically took paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease their symptoms. England's National Health Service (NHS) has approved either drug for self-medicating the illness. Some patients also took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but reports came up that it has adverse effects. The NHS, however, stated that there was no evidence of those effects applying to COVID-19.

As the pandemic progressed, more pharmaceutical companies and laboratories tested drugs for COVID-19. While there is no known cure for the illness yet, some drugs have shown promising effects, at least in reducing the symptoms. The FDA has also approved a number of drugs to be administered on COVID-19 patients.

A patient shouldn't take the medicine that can supposedly treat COVID-19 without consulting their doctor first, though. Pharmacies or drug resellers, on the other hand, shouldn't carelessly claim that their products can treat COVID-19. Paracetamol, ibuprofen, and some over-the-counter drugs may have shown desirable effects, but they may not be suitable for patients with certain risk factors. Thus, if you or someone you know has tested positive for the disease, talk to a doctor before buying any of these drugs that have been used for treatment:

1. Chloroloquine and Hydroxychroloquine

These drugs are traditionally used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases. In malaria, they suppress the heme polymerase, killing the parasite in turn. It works on COVID-19 by keeping the virus out of the host cells. The drugs block the glycosylation of the host receptors, then suppress the endosomal acidification, so that the viral proteins can be broken down.

However, the FDA has withdrawn their authorization for emergency use of these drugs after finding out that they weren't effective in treating COVID-19. Plus, they may also cause serious heart problems.

2. Lopinavir and Ritonavir

Lopinavir and Ritonavir are actually anti-HIV drugs. But vitro tests have shown that they also work in treating SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. There are no tests yet confirming its effectiveness in fighting COVID-19, but a trial in Hong Kong has found that it may work on patients with a mild case of the illness. After taking the drugs, the patients tested showed a reduced time of viral shedding, shortened time of alleviating the symptoms, and a shortened duration of hospital stay. But the drugs, however, had been administered together with IFN-B and ribavirin.

3. Flaviravir

China approved the use of Flaviravir to treat COVID-19 symptoms in February 2020. But in January 2021, an ACS Central Science study has found that flaviravir isn't as effective as remdesivir. Plus, it has yet to be approved by the FDA.

4. Dexamethasone

This anti-inflammatory is being studied to confirm whether it can treat or prevent organ dysfunction and lung injury due to inflammation. So far, it has been proven to decrease the risk of death by around 30% in people on ventilators, and by roughly 20% in people using supplemental oxygen.

Hence, the U.S. National Institutes of Health have approved the use of dexamethasone on COVID-19 patients on ventilators or supplemental oxygen. If the drug isn't available, doctors can administer prednisone, methylprednisolone, or hydrocortisone instead. Dexamethasone isn't recommended for patients with milder infections, or the effects can be harmful.

5. Virgin Coconut Oil

In the Philippines, virgin coconut oil (VCO) was the headline for weeks due to the number of COVID-19 patients reportedly recovering because of it. Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, director of the Philippines's Department of Science and Technology (DOST), said that VCO's anti-viral properties were likely the key to reducing COVID-19 symptoms. Coconut oil contains lauric acid and monolaurin, both of which break down the virus envelope, suppressing its replication and preventing its viral proteins to bind to the host cell membrane.

As of now, clinical trials involving 74 patients are being held in Manila, and are expected to be completed in June 2021.

Pointers for Selling COVID-19 Medication

In many countries, doctors are treating COVID-19 patients with medicines that haven't been approved by the FDA yet. Such practice is called "off-label" use. The prescription of off-label drugs is subject to national laws and regulations. In addition, prescribing off-label drugs should be done on a case-by-case basis.

Therefore, drug resellers shouldn't take advantage of favorable clinical trial results and doctors themselves trusting the drugs. The FDA has in fact already issued a warning to sellers marketing certain drugs. A fraudulent company was discovered to be marketing chlorine dioxide, calling it the "Miracle Mineral Solution" for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The FDA warned consumers not to buy this drug from online retailers because its safety and effectiveness haven't been studied yet. Plus, the FDA has also received reports of people experiencing serious to life-threatening side effects from the drug.

If you're selling a legitimate drug that the FDA has authorized for treating COVID-19, you can use that authorization as your main selling point. However, don't establish yourself as a credible figure, because only doctors can prescribe specific medications to patients.

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